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CROSSTOWN CULINARY CLASH: Pitman lays claim to Iron Chef title
Pitman culinary team Issac Delgado, Ashleigh Phelps, Sinue Cruz and Harrison Moore hold up their trophy with pride as they upset Turlock High School in this years Iron Chef competition on Friday. - photo by CANDY PADILLA / The Journal

For several years now the golden trophy from the annual Turlock Education Foundation sponsored Iron Chef competition has adorned the kitchen of the Turlock High School culinary class. Now it’s Pitman’s turn.

After weeks of preparing and fine-tuning their recipes, the foursome that represented Pitman High School’s culinary class diced, sliced, sautéed and sizzled their way to the top and laid claim to title of Iron Chef.

“I feel over the moon with excitement,” said Isaac Delgado, one of Pitman’s culinary team members. “We felt confident with our dishes and I’m just glad we won.”

The Iron Chef competition pits the two culinary programs against one another, all the while raising funds to bolster the efforts of the Turlock Education Foundation and the programs they support.

Each team was comprised of four culinary students and was overseen by their respective culinary advisors. The principals from each school were also included in the preparations, though their level of participation varied.

“I stir, I squeeze and mainly I stay out of their way,” said Pitman High Principal Rod Hollars. “These kids are really talented and they know what they are doing.”

The teams had to prepare an appetizer, entrée and dessert, all featuring a Latin style. The appetizer or main dish also needed to feature chicken, which was donated by Foster Farms.

Turlock had a menu that began with a tostones with cilantro sauce and queso fresco appetizer. Their main course was a Caribbean chicken with mango chutney, roasted asparagus with Serrano ham and aioli sticky rice. For dessert they served up caramelized banana crepes with Mexican chocolate sauce.

Pitman’s menu started with a corn and avocado salsa cup. For their entrée they served a chili chipotle chicken breast over Latin rice. For dessert they served a tres leches mango cheesecake trifle.

For judge Guillermo Ramirez, owner of Memo’s Cocina and Tequila Bar, it was the dessert that Pitman served that put them up on top.

“The dessert was what clinched it for me,” Ramirez said. “It was layered evenly and had so many good flavors. These kids have a lot of talent and definitely have a future in it if that’s want they want to pursue.”

Judge Armando Fulgencio, the chef at Red Brick Bar and Grill, was equally impressed by the talent levels of both teams.

“The food they are putting out is really good,” Fulgencio said. “I may be trying to hire some of these kids at the end of the night.”

It’s not just claiming the title as the Iron Chef that is up for the taking in the competition. The Turlock Education Foundation gives each school’s culinary program a $250 donation. Each student member from the runner up team receives a $150 scholarship and each student on the winning team gets a $300 scholarship.